Artist at Work

Emile Zola said, “The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work.” Yet work is not work when joy is evident.

. Artist Palette

These thoughts came to mind as I watched my Center for Teaching Excellence partner, Bud Deihl, developing his first draft VoiceThread. Each of us in the Center has specialized in certain areas (I do online course design and social media, Jeff Nugent does tablet PC’s and podcasting, and Bud does screencasting, communications and graphic arts). His latest focus is in the area of digital storytelling.

Yesterday, he brought in a digital camera and took some shots of mundane objects. However, with his eye for layout and focal length, the results were anything but mundane. A wall clock became a slightly blurred impression of passing time. A Starbucks cup became an art object. A tag cloud became a backdrop. Some items were out of focus…others were in stark focus. Each picture had been clearly conceptualized and crafted.

This afternoon, Bud was showing me this series of connected photographs from which he is now recording a story. Yet, even without the audio, one sensed the story just by the layout. He was enjoying himself and I was able to enjoy the moment observing the pure fun he was having.

Maybe it struck me more than usual because Bud displayed real passion as he explained the context of each picture and how it related to his journey into Web 2.0. I was watching someone caught up in his learning and using Web 2.0 tools in his PLE to draw this story together.

Bud’s focus is to develop his own craft using VoiceThread so that he can then work with faculty to help them exploit this tool. It was fun simply watching him at work. I am sure he will be sharing his learning in his blog, but my joy came from watching his.

To me, there are parallels to our craft of teaching. It is too easy to be caught up in NCLB and state standardized tests or university requirements. However, if we can help our students catch this fever of learning and internalize it the way Bud has, deep and active learning will occur. Armed with their own PLEs, students will not only complete courses, they will thrive and carry the lessons on learning into their future.

Maybe that is why it was so much fun watching an artist at work today.

[Photo Credit: Clark’s Aunt]

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